Salads, as healthy and often delicious as they are, in the grand scheme of food, they can be near the bottom of the list of coveted dishes on a menu.
On the other hand, when made with love and some awesome ingredients, a salad can be at the top of the list, and fit for a princess of the most discerning palate.
Tonight, I’m going to pretend I’m a princess and make a salad fit for me.
My friend Marilyn Gorneau has introduced me to a lot of different foods and drinks that I may have never otherwise encountered, as I’m a wicked homebody, in large part thanks to my elderly pets, Elliot the dog and Ruby-2-Shoes the golden-aged kitten.
I don’t like leaving them for even a night. It’s pathetic.
Then of course there’s Bunny, the ex-feral cat who has taken up residence in my back room, or studio, as I called it back when I was doing what I should have focused my life on – painting. Let’s not get into that now. Suffice it to say I started taking art lessons when I was 12, majored in art education in college, and have painted many halfway decent paintings over the years.
I wasn’t going to get into it.
Yesterday Marilyn gave me two of the biggest radishes I’d ever seen. “They’re watermelon radishes,” she said. “They’re faintly sweet and very crunchy, and wait till you see the inside.” She got them at the Bath Farmers Market. They were grown by Tarbox Farm, on Westport Island.
I sliced into one and it looked just like a mini-watermelon inside – the most gorgeous rosy pink color, with a pale green rim. Being a painter (here I go again), I have a deep appreciation for beautiful colors. The pink hue of the watermelon radish is kind of a combination of alizarin crimson, rose madder genuine, and quinacridone red. Sorry. I can’t help myself.
I took a bite of the artful slice. Marilyn wasn’t whistling Dixie. The radish was slightly sweet, with just a faint radish-y taste, and oh-so-crunchy!
I started imagining a beautiful salad. I pictured pale green lettuce and dark red and white radicchio. I pictured red pears and dark purple blackberries. I virtually tasted blue cheese and pictured its creamy whiteness with little blue-green spots crumbled over the top of the edible work of art.
I remembered a delicious addition to any salad that a friend told me about a few years ago: slice a zucchini into quarter-inch rounds, bake, with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, at 325 for as long as it takes for the slices turn golden-brown – up to 30 minutes. Sweet, a little crispy, wicked good.
I was inspired.
I love for food to be as pretty to the eye as it is tasty to the palate, and I’ve blabbed on and on about my vast, varied array of beautiful, or cool, dinnerware, flatware, and glasses.
Between the elegant plate I chose and the splendor of the palette (note how I’ve managed to incorporate both palate and palette) of colors, it was sure to be a princess-worthy salad.
And it was, I think. (I’m not really a princess.)
I paired the gorgeous salad with a pale pink rose, drunk from a matching, elegant, way-too-expensive-but-so-worth-it pale pink glass.
The rose came from a can. 🙂 When I went to Hannaford to get some of the colorful ingredients for the salad, there was a woman promoting canned wine.
Not being one to refuse free wine, canned or not, I tasted both the rose and the white bubbly. I’m no wine snob, and as long as a wine hasn’t been in contact with air for too long, isn’t overly sweet, and doesn’t smell like vinegar or mold, I’m OK.
Popsugar.com says if a wine is “fizzy, but it’s not a sparkling wine … it has undergone a second fermentation after the bottling and shouldn’t be enjoyed.” I would have said it shouldn’t be drunk, because I doubt anyone would enjoy it.
So anyway, the canned wines tasted good to me. Plus I loved the novelty of them coming in a cool, artfully decorated can.
Just for the record, I have a problem with wine snobs. There was a segment on the “Today” show recently about an event to call out wine snobs. Both a fairly pricey wine – around $25 a bottle – and a boxed wine were served. The boxed wine, which had been poured into expensive-looking bottles with fancy labels, would have cost around $5 per bottle. And guess what? Not one of the 25 or so wine tasters had a clue. I loved that. It made me feel smug.
OK, so I had the gorgeous salad, worthy of a princess, and a painting (maybe I’ll get out my paint and brushes now), the canned wine, and some great crusty bread with olive oil and pink Himalayan salt. Full disclosure: I had a small steak too. 🙂
P.S. I found more of the watermelon radishes at Rising Tide Co-op (risingtide.coop) in Damariscotta. Do yourself a favor. Go get some, and be inspired to make your own beautiful, crunchy, sublime salad, worthy of you. Because you’re worth it.
And the beat goes on. See ya next week.
(Suzi Thayer paints, feeds stray cats, eats good food, and drinks Manhattans. She’d love to hear from you with ideas and recipes for her column. Email email@example.com.)